Wae Rebo is a small village of the Manggarai ethnic group. Its traditional house called “Rumah Niang” or “Mbaru Niang” which is conical in shape has succeeded in attracting foreign and local tourists to visit.
About Wae Rebo Village
Flores Island offers more than just natural beauty. Wae Rebo, a traditional village at an altitude of 1200 meters, represents the island’s heritage. With its 1200 inhabitants, this traditional village is surrounded by mountainous terrain and lush jungle.
Nestled in the district of Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara, this village has received the Top Award of Excellence from UNESCO and UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards in 2012.
Wae Rebo was recognized for its rebuilding of the traditional Mbaru Niang, a traditional house built from the spirit of community cooperation towards a sustainable tradition, while improving the lives of village residents.
History of Wae Rebo Village
Founder of the village and ancestor of the people was Empu Maro, who built the village some 100 years ago. Under the protection of a friendly spirit, he led his tribe into the highlands of Flores.
Currently, the residents are his 18th-generation descendants.
The local government started the development of Wae Rebo as a tourism destination in 1997. Their investment went into the construction of two Mbaru Niang houses.
A group of 15 architects from Jakarta renovated the remaining Mbaru Niang houses in 2008 with the support of the community and local government.
There is no fixed entrance fee to enter this village.
Also, since there is no phone reception in the village, there is no need to book in advance to reserve your place there.
Prior to your arrival, you will need to donate to the village, and it costs IDR 350.000 per person to stay overnight. You will sleep in one of the Mbaru Niang houses; two of the nine traditional houses are built for all visitors.
There are no official opening hours there either. But to respect the local people, especially the elders, you are expected to come at the latest at 5 PM, before sunset. As the elders are getting ready for their dinner and resting afterwards at Mbaru Niang.
Bring your Indonesian currency – Rupiah, for the donation and the accommodation fee as they only accept payment in cash.
Besides, there is no ATM there, including in Denge Village, the nearest village from Wae Rebo. Therefore, come early so you can be greeted by the tribal elder and bring cash to donate and pay the accommodation fee to stay in Wae Rebo.
How to Get There
There are multiple ways to get there, but we will explain the easiest way for you.
Flight from Denpasar, Surabaya, Jakarta, or Kupang
First step, book a flight to bigger airports across Indonesia such as Denpasar, Jakarta, Surabaya, or Kupang. From there, you may continue your flight to Labuan Bajo airport, Komodo Airport [LBJ].
It only takes approximately 2 hours from Jakarta Airport [CGK] and 1 hour to 1 and a half hours from Surabaya [SUB], Denpasar [DPS], and Kupang Airport [KOE].
From Labuan Bajo
Second, once you are in Labuan Bajo, rent a car or scooter to go to Denge Village, the nearest village from Wae Rebo. It takes about 4 to 5 hours to get there by driving.
If you decide to go on this adventure, be sure that you can ride a scooter very well. Several roads are unpaved, steep, made entirely of huge stones with large gaps between them, or they lead through rivers.
Once you arrive at the Denge Village, you will need to trek to Wae Rebo Village, which can take around three hours to reach there. You don’t need to have a guide to go there, as the trail is a single track, all the way to Wae Rebo, a very small to no chance to get lost in the forest. Prepare your trekking shoes, water, and bring your backpack instead of a suitcase for easier trekking.
Wae Rebo is a traditional village, far from anywhere, there is no supermarket or even small shops nearby.
Should you plan to go there, you may want to prepare some snacks and travel essentials before going there. Although this village is isolated from the outside, here are some tourist attractions that Wae Rebo offers:
1. Rumah Niang / Mbaru Niang
A unique feature of Wae Rebo is its tall, conical houses called Mbaru Niang; the roof and entire house is covered with lontar thatch. The houses have five levels, each level designated for a specific purpose.
There are five levels in Mbaru Niang, the first level is called lutur or tent, and is the extended family’s living quarters. The second level is called lobo, or attic, where food and goods are stored. The third level called lentar is for storing seeds for the coming harvest. The fourth level called lempa rae is where food stocks are kept in case of drought. And the fifth level, called hekang kode is to place offerings for the ancestors, the most sacred level in the house.
Upon your arrival in this village, you are not allowed to take photos until you have been greeted by the village elder in one of their Mbaru Niang. After giving your donation for the village to the village elder, you will be served the famous Wae Rebo robusta coffee as a welcome drink.
2. Penti Ritual Ceremony
Penti is an annual ceremony in which people give thanks to God for the bountiful harvest that has been provided in the past year and pray for prosperity and health in the coming year. For Wae Rebo people, Penti is a most important ceremony, especially to strengthen their unity.
Not only the villagers of the village are participating in the Penti, but also their neighbors and those living outside the village are looking for work.
The ceremony is centered in 3 places, starting at 06.0 AM.
The first one takes place at the springs, indicating the beginning of life. Next is on the village’s front porch, where prayers are said for women whose husbands live outside the village. And the last one is in the backyard, during which the community prays for prosperity and health for the whole village.
At the ceremony’s peak, two pigs are sacrificed; which blood is used to read futures by the high priest.
A thrilling Caci fight will take place in the main courtyard as a sign of the last ritual of the ceremony. Villagers believe that one or both men must be beaten since the blood that falls on their land will bring fertility.
3. Coffee Garden
With a small population of around 1,200 people only, the village consists of 7 houses. The main food of villagers is cassava and maize. However, Wae Rebo people plant their own coffee, vanilla, and cinnamon which they also sell to the local market, located some 15 km from the village.
Wae Rebo has recently gained popularity as a tourist destination for international ecotourists, which has boosted the village’s economic prosperity.
Besides its natural beauty and stunning landscape, visitors mainly go there to taste the famous robusta Wae Rebo coffee. You may find the coffee garden on your way of trekking before entering the village.
4. Panoramatic Mountain
Wae Rebo is surrounded by panoramic mountains and the lush Todo forest. There are orchids, ferns, and chirping songbirds in this lush tropical forest filled with abundant vegetation.
This village has no mobile reception, and the electricity only runs from 6 PM to 10 PM WITA.
The weather is relatively cold, especially in the dry season, so don’t forget to bring your jacket and trouser if you’re planning to visit the village.
5. Beautiful Scenery of the Forest
In this village, you can take some great photos of the iconic 7 Mbaru Niang with the landscape of the mountain and the green forest in the background. Meanwhile, during the night, your eyes will be entertained by the sky view; full of stars, ideal for night photography.
In Wae Rebo, visitors are warmly welcomed and offered the opportunity to experience their simple traditional way of life. This village is an ideal place for you who wants to have an adventure, learn a traditional way of life, and enjoy its beautiful scenery while having the famous Wae Rebo robusta coffee with local people.
Ready to Explore the Beauty of Flores?
Should you want to explore more of Flores Island, besides Wae Rebo Village, Komodo National Park can be a choice for you to visit. Perfect for completing your journey in Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara.